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Joakim Ditlev

Review Motivation Part 1 – The Real Reason People Write Negative Reviews

By on Monday, March 12th, 2012 in Online reviews

Getting customers to review your company is all about motivation. They did business with you and got what they came for. In this article we’ll look into what drives customers to leave a negative review – what’s their motivation for talking bad about your company.

At the end of the day there are two overall motivational factors when customers review your company. Either you exceeded their level of expectations or you failed to do so. Let’s dig deeper into the latter.

People act on instinct when being treated unfairly

Review MotivationBeing treated unfairly can lead people to take risks far beyond what they would normally do. Irrational decisions are common too, and people in these situations can spend a lot of energy on getting the act justified. Here’s a classic example.

You’re walking down the street and you feel a hand on your pocket. Soon you realize that a pickpocket just got away with your wallet. So you act on instinct, and try to chase down the pickpocket while shouting “Stop the pickpocket”. After crossing a road with dense traffic you get help from a few other people and in the end, you are able to catch the villain.

This story gets a happy ending, but in the middle of the act you don’t think about the risks. You only had a little cash in your wallet and the credit cards could easily be blocked, so there’s no way this justifies the risk you take when pursuing the pickpocket and crossing a congested road. But you’re upset, you’ve been treated unfairly and you want revenge – or justice at least. So you act and think less about risk and consequences.

Unfairness drives motivation for negative reviews

It’s exactly the same motivation factors that cause your customers to leave a negative review on your site. An upset customer does not think about how much time it takes to write a review. S/he has experienced something really unfair and is acting to justify that experience. The act of writing a negative review in public serves the same purpose as when someone shouts out loud to stop a pickpocket. Order has been broken and it feels natural to alert your surroundings.

On the Trustpilot review platform we see a direct relation between the length of a review and the rating. The longer the review is the more negative the rating. In fact, reviews with a 1 star rating are almost three times as long when compared with a 5 star rating review. I believe that tells a lot about how unfairness is expressed, don’t you think?

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog, so you don’t miss the second part of the story – how to encourage customers to leave positive reviews.

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